Bound for Cameron’s Corner, AT’s Alissa Jenkins ventures through Outback NSW.
As I fly into Broken Hill in NSW’s far-west, a flat Outback landscape appears from behind the clouds, resembling a terracotta plate covered in patchy grass.
Fresh off the plane with a rumbling stomach, first stop is the award-winning Bell’s Milk Bar. Stepping inside is like stepping back in time. The café has been designed as a 1950s time warp, with murals of cartoon dancing fruit, an authentic jukebox playing retro tunes and an in-house museum. But what the milk bar is most renowned for is their handmade syrups, which have been used in their milkshakes and spiders for generations.
After chugging down a Bodgie’s Blood spider (Bell’s raspberry and cola syrups mixed with soda and ice cream), I’m soon on the road and bound for Packsaddle, where I’ll spend the night.
Driving along, the buildings soon become fewer, the wildlife more frequent and the soil more red and sandy. A four-hour drive north and I’m finally at Packsaddle Roadhouse in time to see rich reds and pinks of the sunset. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the roadhouse is where surrounding residents and passers-by come for a meal, a beverage, minor mechanical repairs and most importantly, fuel.
Following a steak-and-veg dinner, it’s off to bed.
Bell’s Milk Bar // 160 Patton St, Broken Hill South // (08) 8087 5380 //
Packsaddle Roadhouse // (08) 8091 3505 // www.packsaddleroadhouse.com.au/
Dressed, fed and packed, I farewell the friendly Packsaddle staff to continue my journey north.
Looking out the window, emus and kangaroos often pass, as do bodies of water that haven’t been filled in years, due to unusually heavy rains over the past 18 months.
I briefly stop at Depot Glen where James Poole, who was second in command in Charles Sturt’s expedition to discover an inland sea, was buried in 1845.
A short drive after, I arrive at the largely abandoned township of Milparinka. Once a booming gold-mining town during the 1880s-1920s, it is now comprised of crumbling ruins and a number of restored buildings that make up the Milparinka Heritage Precinct. Among them is the former police station, which has been turned into a Visitor Information Centre and is managed by visiting volunteers.
Soon back on the road, my final destination for the day is Tibooburra, also established at the height of the Goldrush.
I check into my accommodation at Tooles Family Hotel, where I also have dinner. For me, this is the highlight of Tibooburra.
Known as ‘The Family’ to locals, the hotel dates back to 1882 but it was during the 1960s when its claim to fame originated. It was during this time that the hotel became a base for many travelling artists as they explored The Outback for inspiration. As a result, several distinguished Australian artists such as Clifton Pugh, Eric Minchin and Russell Drysdale began painting the interior walls of the hotel as they experimented with their signature styles. More artists have since followed the trend, turning the hotel into a living art gallery. An impressive end to the day.
Milparinka Heritage Precinct //
Tooles Family Hotel // 10 Briscoe St, Tibooburra // (08) 8091 3314 // www.tibooburra.com.au
Following breakfast at Corner Country Store, I start the final leg of my journey north to Cameron’s Corner, where the borders of New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland meet.
Four-hour drive later I arrive at the iconic location, marked by a pole. On top there is a plaque divided like a pie-graph, representing the angles at which the three states all meet.
The junction is also marked by the world’s longest fence, ‘The Dog Fence’, which is set a few metres back. It was initially constructed in the 1880s to keep rabbits out of South Australia, but proved more effective at preventing dingos from crossing onto sheep grazing land, thus the name.
Following lunch at nearby Cameron’s Corner Pub, it’s time to begin the journey back home.
I travel along the Queensland side of the fence for a few kilometres before turning back into New South Wales. On the way back to Tibooburra I pass several full bodies of water like Lake Pinnaroo and South Myers Dam, which are brimming with birdlife, even pelicans, one of many uncharacteristic sights to be seen in outback NSW this year.
Back in town, I head to the Tibooburra Hotel for dinner where friendly hosts, a hearty meal and tasty dessert make a sweet finish to the day.
Corner Country Store // Lot 7, Briscoe St, Tibooburra // (08) 8091 3333
Cameron’s Corner Pub //
Tibooburra Hotel // Briscoe St, Tibooburra // (08) 8091 3310 // www.tibooburrahotel.com.au
Travelling back towards Broken Hill, the effects recent rainfall continues to be seen in the landscape. Grassy plains that had been dry and barren for the last decade, new eucalyptus plants sprouting on the roadside, countless infant animals and well-fed livestock relaxing in paddocks; all signalling the end of the drought.
As midday passes I stop at Pincally Station Bed and Breakfast, located almost halfway between Milparinka and Packsaddle.
There the hosts have prepared a scrumptious barbecue lunch. Afterwards, they show me around their historic homestead, in which three queen-sized guest bedrooms have been sectioned off from the rest of the house. The entire residence is beautifully furnished with a rustic country décor.
Outside a self-contained cottage is under construction for guests, which will sleep up to six once complete.
Soon I continue travelling south towards tonight’s accommodation at Mount Gipps Station, an 85,000-acre sheep station dating back to the 1860s, located 40 kilometres north of Broken Hill.
I arrive in the evening and through the darkness can see the property features several old miners’ huts, offered as self-catered accommodation.
Shortly after arrival I am introduced to the owners, John and Kym Cramp, and make my way to their stone house where they host a hearty home-cooked dinner.
After much food, wine and conversation, I drag myself to bed.
Pincally Station // (08) 80913571 //
Mount Gipps Station // (08) 8091 3537 // www.mountgippsstation.com.au
The final day of my Outback adventure starts with watching a sunrise over Mount Gipps Station from a peak on the property, aptly named Sunset Hill. Small tree branches and fine shrubs cast striking silhouettes in front of the bright pink sky, while mica minerals in the surrounding rocks sparkle in the rising sun.
Nearby I investigate an old wolfram mine, clearly no longer in use but a reminder of Broken Hill’s long mining history.
With the early morning surprisingly cold and windy, I soon trade the view for a warm egg and bacon breakfast back at the house.
Afterwards, I take a brisk walk around a creek on the property to help digest the abundance of meat and eggs I’ve consumed over the last few days.
Along the way I pass Sturt Desert Peas, growing amongst a paddock now thick with vegetation. The creek is gently flowing and has attracted local wildlife such as ibises.
Walking throughout the property, which is now lush with new growth, and with a history steeped in mining and farming, seems a fitting way to finish my week in Corner country.
I head back to the vehicle and continue travelling to Broken Hill Airport, with a new love for Outback NSW.
Alissa was a guest of Tri-state Safaris.
To book a 4WD tour through The Outback with Tri-state Safaris, call (08) 80882389 or visit www.tristate.com.au
For further information contact:
Corner Country Tourism // firstname.lastname@example.org // www.outbacknsw.com.au